It’s hard to envision a world before the pandemic where people wandered without masks, ate meals together in large groups and played sports. Eventually, and hopefully, sports will be in full force again, but for now we can reminisce on one year ago today in Emory sports history.
The women’s golf team came in fourth place at the Linda Lowery Invitational on Feb. 24, 2020. The track and field team was training in the Woodruff Physical Education Center (WoodPEC) in preparation for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Indoor Championships that would take place on Feb. 29 in New York. Baseball was practicing at Chappell Park and enjoying a historic start in their season. On Cooper Field, softball was busy practicing, and men’s and women’s tennis were preparing for their next matches on the courts next to the WoodPEC.
The sports matches from this week a year ago, too, would be some of the last matches for a full calendar year. Women’s tennis had dominated Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) 8-1 on Feb. 22. Baseball was 5-1 after defeating DePauw University (Ind.) on Feb. 22. Softball had beat Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) 8-4 on Feb. 23. Needless to say, the 2020 season for Emory sports teams was promising.
Men’s tennis was performing particularly well with an undefeated 6-0 record. Their last match of the shortened season would come on March 7, when they swept Rhodes College (Tenn.) 9-0. Even though their season was interrupted by the pandemic, three players were named 2020 All-Americans by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Then-sophomore Antonio Mora and then-junior Hayden Cassone were selected for this honor as singles players, while Mora and then-junior Will Wanner were named All-Americans as doubles partners. With such talented players and a triumphant start to the season, it’s only accurate to assume that their season would have ended on a successful note.
Off the court, Eagle athletes were also making tremendous strides. Last spring, 88 Emory student-athletes were selected to the UAA Spring All-Academic Team. To be considered for this honor, one must have maintained at least a 3.3 GPA and have finished a year of college.
Not only were spring sports cheated of a full season, but several winter sports never finished. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were robbed of the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division III championships, which were supposed to take place in early March. Both teams had placed first at the Emory Fall Invitational, and the women’s team was the reigning NCAA national champion.
Women’s basketball finished off their season with a 19-6 record, with their final game a 62-58 victory over the University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Feb. 29. Even though men’s basketball ended their season with a nail-biting loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Pomona-Pitzer College (Calif.) on March 7, they boasted a stunning overall record of 22-5.
When we fast forward to today, as the spring season slowly begins, COVID-19 outbreaks have once again risen. How the season will play out remains up in the air. As an athlete myself, I believe I can speak on behalf of all athletes when I say that all we want is to be able to get back out on the field, track or court again and play the game that we all know and love.